BLAM: Merry Christmas from a Drunk Driver
If only I wasn’t such a social butterfly, a hostess-with-the-mostess, a proud, doting teacher—I would have made it to the back room and had my costumes packed before ten o’clock after our holiday dance recital.
If only I had let someone else drive a friend home after her truck broke down, I would have made it to Walmart twenty minutes earlier.
If I had just braved some holiday crowds and finished my shopping earlier in the week instead of waiting until three days before Christmas, I wouldn’t have gone to Walmart at all.
If I had arrived a few seconds earlier at the checkout and beaten the man in the tweed overcoat and clomping boots, I wouldn’t have had to wait four minutes until the single cashier was through with her midnight closeout.
If I would have been a creature of habit, I would have taken my sneaky-route home through the back streets.
If I would have been a speeder, I would have been home already.
I wasn’t and I didn’t and I hadn’t, so I passed the Bijou Exit on I-25 at 12:13 a.m. on December 21, 2000.
I used to love driving at night. All summer, I drove with the sunroof of my little Mazda open, turning my face into the night air to enjoy the hush beneath the stars. That night, it had just snowed. Typical for Colorado Springs in winter, so my car was sealed tight with the heater on full blast when I veered onto the entrance ramp in a last-minute decision.
Such a tiny thing.
Another road. Five minutes. The word ‘yes’. Change any one of them and I wouldn’t be writing this story today. That’s neither good nor bad. It simply is.
Am I stalling?
Probably. This is one of the most violent memories of my life.
Do I need to tell you about it?
This year when the holiday season rolls around, maybe in exchange of laughing in satisfied mischief as you hop onto social media to post the location of that DUI checkpoint you passed on the way home, you might be inspired to share my story instead.
And you, over there—maybe you’ll think twice and hand over your keys on your birthday.
Or you—maybe you’ll wrestle the keys from your boyfriend when he slurs about how he’s “just fine” and isn’t too drunk to drive when you know better, and maybe you won’t give two candy corns on a Halloween cupcake that he’s mad at you the whole way home.
Maybe you’ll save a life.
His. Yours. Somebody’s grandma. Maybe it’ll be somebody’s five-month-old child like the one that was killed by her drunk father on that very highway a few months after my wreck. He survived, you know. So did her twin sister. Maybe yours won’t.
So let’s have done with it, shall we?
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